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Twins Bench in 2021--Youth or Experience?

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 08:35 PM

With the exception of left field, there are no real contests for starting positions for the 2021 Twins. If he doesn't start as the most frequent left fielder, Luis Arraez will get frequent starts in the infield. The major competition for roster positions will come down to backup outfielders, another utility infielder (particularly if Arraez gets a lot of starts in left) and perhaps a third catcher. 

 

I've seen posts suggesting that three rookies, outside of Alex Kirilloff, should get consideration for backup outfielder and utility infielder. That would be Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon and Brent Rooker. The three have a combined total of 25 plate appearances in eight major league games. Rooker is a corner outfielder who played some first base early in his professional career, Blankenhorn has played second, third and left field and Gordon has divided his minor league time between second and shortstop. Ideally, the Twins could use someone to back up at all infield positions and left. In my opinion, none of the rookies here is a fit to be a bench player. None of these guys project as an above average performer in the field. 

 

It seems to me that asking inexperienced players to assume a bench role, starting no more than once or twice a week, is asking a lot. They are not used to the role and with the added pressure of proving they belong, I don't think it is putting a player in a position where he has a reasonable chance to succeed. If there is hope for a player to become a major league regular, I don't think bench roles are a good learning experience. 

 

The non-roster invitees and waiver claim Kyle Garlick would appear to be better fits for backup roles than the rookies who were in the Twins system, even if their upsides are limited. When injuries occur, the rookies would probably get a chance to get some regular playing time and have a more reasonable chance to prove their worth on the biggest stage.

 

 

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#2 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 12:24 PM

only reason you'd put a young player in a utility role that plays them once or twice a week is if you don't think they have any more than that for a ceiling. Those guys need to be playing every day to keep their skills up. No way I put a guy like AK in that kind of a role unless Rocco promises me he's getting 500 at bats in said role. 

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#3 High heat

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 04:31 PM

The second utility role is going to be interesting. I believe it’s either Rooker OR Kirilloff. Won’t have both on big league roster.

I don’t think Blankenhorn or Gordon will make the team out of spring but I could see Gordon being removed from 40 man if he doesn’t have a solid spring.

I think it will be either Riddle or La Tortuga and Garlick to start the season. Lots of at bats to go around this spring for the fringe guys because of smaller rosters. Spring should be an interesting and competitive one.

#4 Danchat

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 05:14 PM

 

only reason you'd put a young player in a utility role that plays them once or twice a week is if you don't think they have any more than that for a ceiling. Those guys need to be playing every day to keep their skills up. No way I put a guy like AK in that kind of a role unless Rocco promises me he's getting 500 at bats in said role. 

Right, though Rooker is already 26 and major league ready, so even if he's sitting on the bench for a while, I'd like to have him on the roster. We've lacked a good pinch hitter to use late in games, and Rooker might be a great option vs lefties, when otherwise Kepler/Cave might have to face one late in a game.


#5 DocBauer

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 07:45 PM

And this article is not only dead on, but it also brings up the Kirilloff debate yet again. Unfortunately. My arguements have always been to ignore the service time issue. He is young, talented, and I believe he's going to be very, very good. But what has Rooker done to show he DOESN'T deserve some kind of shot?

Assuming a 13 man staff, which I think is the way to go, at least early on, it comes down to an OF or utility player for the final spot. This is assuming Cave is the 4th OF, which I am assuming is a given at this point.

Kirilloff can have a great ST, destroy the baseball, and make this a moot point. But he can also open in AAA...where he's never played before...and let LF be manned by Arraez, Rooker and Cave. Rooker can play 3 spots, though maybe not great. (He actually saw a fair amount of time at 1B early in the initial 2020 ST and has played it before). That leaves 1 spot for Astudillo, the early favorite I think, or another glove guy to help protect Donaldson and everyone else and provide depth.

On the other hand, you could keep AK AND Rooker and have only Arraez as an infield sub, at least to start the year.

But guys like Gordon and Blankenhorn NEED TO PLAY. They need to be at AAA for the first month plus to develop and come up as opportunity arises.
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